Jazz CD Reviews

Dave Holland Sextet – Pass It on – Dare2 Records/Emarcy/Decca Music Group

Dave Holland not completely at the top of his game is still better than 95% of other jazz.

Published on October 12, 2008

Dave Holland Sextet – Pass It on – Dare2 Records/Emarcy/Decca Music Group
Dave Holland Sextet – Pass It On – Dare2 Records/Emarcy/Decca Music Group B0011860 02, 74:16 ****1/2:

(Dave Holland – double-bass, Antonio Hart – alto sax; Robin Eubanks – trombone; Alex “Sasha” Sipiagin – trumpet; Mulgrew Miller – piano; Eric Harland – drums)

Things start out winningly with probably the best number on this session, Robin Eubanks’ engaging “The Sum of All Parts.”  With its jittery rhythms and mesmerizing trombone/drums intro, it immediately captures one’s attention.  Antonio Hart’s sax enters about the two minute mark, then Alex Sipiagin’s trumpet, then the whole sextet around 3:30, and things begin cooking mightily, nicely goosed to the next level by a very engaging bass solo from the leader.

It’s not necessarily all downhill from there, but nothing really trumps the opener.  The difficulty, perhaps, has to do with what might be called a step back for the leader.  Revisiting six numbers previously recorded, imparts to Pass It On a slightly retro feel.  Yet, when it works, as on “Double Vision,” it works wonders, what with Robin Eubanks’ fiery solo topped off by one of the more interesting drum solos I’ve ever heard.  The slower numbers, “Equality,” “Lazy Snake,” and “Processional,” the former two featuring some of Antonio Hart’s finest playing on record and the latter showcasing gorgeous ensemble work, ring with authenticity and conviction.  And “Rivers Run,” a masterpiece of post-bop ingenuity, makes a very strong impression.

On Pass It On, Holland, who built his reputation on outré, experimental jazz, apparently wanted to do a more traditionally sounding disc.  To round out his resume?  Perhaps.  What this is, really, is Holland adapting his recent infatuation with his big band to a small group context.  Thus, there tends to be a trade-off between creativity and cohesiveness: the band is nothing if not tight.

The music grows in depth and subtlety with repeated listenings, and, finally, comes across as something of an accomplishment, given its rather restrictive conceptual parameters.  At almost 75 minutes, it’s probably too long, engendering a mild case of listener fatigue, but there are not a lot of wasted notes.  Very much worth checking out.

TrackList:
The Sum of All Parts
Fast Track
Lazy Snake
Double Vision
Equality
Modern Times
Rivers Run
Processional
Pass It on

- Jan P. Dennis

 




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